Heart surgery – a comprehensive guide

A Guide to your heart surgery and recovery

   We understand that this can be a very stressful time in your life. While we would like to bring you some peace of mind before you make a decision, we would like you to remember that it is important to bear in mind that specific protocols may vary depending on the type of heart surgery performed and individual patient factors. Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare specialist for personalized guidance. However, here are some general guidelines.


Pre-operative Procedures

Thorough Evaluation and Information:

Before surgeries  heart surgery, a comprehensive evaluation is conducted at the hospital. This procedure may take several hours. To reduce the stress, you may want a loved one to come along.  including a review of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. This assessment helps determine the patient’s overall health status and identify any pre-existing conditions that may impact the surgery. You and your surgeon will discuss the procedure, potential risks, benefits, and alternatives.  This is the time to ask questions and to plan for your post surgery care.

Here is a list of procedures taking place during this first phase:

  1. Pre-registration
  2. Blood work, EKG, urinalysis
  3. Chest X-ray
  4. Meet the physician assistant
  5. Anesthesia evaluation
  6. Meet the nurse coordinator

You will go over the complete process of heart surgery with your care coordinator. You will be informed on what medications to stop or continue, sternal precaution, pain management, post-surgery diet and nutrition and other possible restrictions and finally, you will be planning your discharge and your out of hospital recovery (rehab, home care etc.)

Preparing for Surgery – D-Day:

Try to rest and avoid stress as much as possible. You should not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery, you should remove all jewellry, nail polish and shower the morning of  surgery with antibacterial soap (prescribed by the surgeon and picked up in a pharmacy). While undergoing surgery, your loved ones can wait in a designated area, they will be kept informed as soon as surgery is completed and you are recovering in the ICU.

Post-operative Procedures:

Day 1 – 3

After the procedure you might be kept in the ICU or recover in a specific individual room which allows you to rest and recover while your specialized team has permanent access to you.

During the first one to two days after your surgery, your surgerical team will continue to update you and your family on your progress. Goal will be set with you everyday to make sure that you are fully involved which will speed up your recovery. You will be monitored  closely and do daily lab work. The main markers that will determine the speed with which you get closer to your discharge date are:

  • Stable vital signs
  • You are awake and alert
  • You are out of bed two to three times daily
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy evaluation
  • You are able to walk around and sit
  • Your wound is healing properly
  • Your breathing is improving steadily

Nurses will help you manage your pain at that point the staff will remove all drains, lines and catheters.

By the second day, you should be able to walk around with one of the nurses three to four times daily. At that point, your team may decide to move you to a recovery room.

You will be encourage to do breathing exercises and use an incentive spirometer. Deep breathing, and coughing techniques are encouraged to prevent respiratory complications.

From day 3 to 5

Daily lab works will continue along with checking on the following;

  • Stable vital signs
  • You are out of bed at least three times daily outside of meals
  • You are able to walk around about three to four times daily
  • You can use the incentive spirometer 10 times every day
  • You are able to eat over 50% of your meals.


Education and Discharge Planning:

Patients and their families receive education on post-operative care, medications, activity restrictions, and follow-up appointments. Discharge planning includes coordination with home care services, if necessary.

It’s important to follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare team, as recovery protocols may vary depending on the individual patient and the surgical procedure performed. Regular follow-up visits and adherence to prescribed medications and lifestyle modifications are essential for a successful recovery after heart surgery. Find out about the top five best hospitals in France for cardiac surgery. 

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